The newest Beaumont Health employees are the only staff members under 2 years old.
Taylor is a German shepherd and one of two new canine officers on staff and members of a growing corps of security dogs employed at all Beaumont sites. He joins 10-week-old pup Titan, another German shepherd who joined the security force at Beaumont Hospital – Royal Oak with handler Rick Warznie.
Taylor and Titan are considered promising young professionals distinctively qualified for their new roles, and both have memorable names. Taylor is named after the location where he’ll be based: Beaumont Hospital – Taylor. Titan, however, came by his name a different way.
“I named him Titan because his paws are so huge, and he’s so big and strong,” Warznie said. “The name just stuck.”
“With everything that’s going on in the world today, we have to be proactive,” said Morris Cotton, deputy system director of Security for Beaumont Health. “We have to be prepared. We don’t want anybody to be afraid, but the way we approach security is changing.”
A former Highland Park police chief, Morris made the case to bring canine security officers to the Dearborn hospital about nine years ago. The dogs are specially trained in bomb detection, aggression and obedience. Their very presence is often enough to defuse potentially harmful confrontations.
“We’d had some situations in the Emergency Department where people would get angry,” said Dominic Brazelton, supervisor of Security at Beaumont – Dearborn. “They’d want to fight with the staff; they’d want to fight with us, but when we’d bring in the dog, they’d change their minds.”
He and his K9 partner, Gonzo, have patrolled the halls and campus at the hospital for eight years.
The dogs are so highly trained, however, that they only act aggressively on command. Otherwise they are as gentle, approachable and friendly as any household pet.
At Beaumont Hospital – Farmington Hills, Canine Officer Donald Stefani and Duke, who is named after a long-serving security guard who passed away, have teamed up to keep patients and staff safe since 2013. Beaumont – Royal Oak has used canine officers for about 15 years, said Chris Hengstebeck, system director of Security for Beaumont Health.
“It’s evolved some,” he said. “We’ve had narcotics dogs and explosive dogs, and now we’re keying in on explosives, given the world we live in. We’ll also walk them through the emergency centers, we’ll walk them through the parking lots and parking structures to bring a sense of calm.”
Taylor recently finished his initial training. He and his partner, Scott Tuttle, have been paired up since the end of November. Like other security and police dogs, he came from Germany and was trained under the guidance of Terry Foley, another former police officer who operates the K9 Academy in the city of Taylor. Scott and Taylor trained four days a week, six hours a day to get ready for their role at Beaumont – Taylor.
As for Titan, he trains side-by-side with Warznie and his current security dog, Storm. At 8 years old, Storm is approaching his well-earned retirement.
“The training is a very intensive process—not just for the dog, but for me, as well,” Tuttle said. “It’s a life-changing event. It’s not just a job; it’s a lifestyle.”
That lifestyle doesn’t necessarily end when their hospital shifts do. The four canine teams at Beaumont Hospital – Dearborn are also on call with the city police force. Brazelton and Gonzo have performed security sweeps for the Dearborn police prior to city parades and other events, too.
“It’s been a great, collaborative partnership,” Cotton said.